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Noinoi
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Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:26 pm

As I find myself rarely using my laptop these days (it's pretty much good only for holidays now), I decided to yank out the Samsung 840 EVO 250 GB and stuffed it into my desktop in RAID0 last night. The computer appears to work well after restoring from a system image created just before the transplant, restarting into Safe Mode once, and extending the original system partition so that I get to use the entire range of striped storage.

Are there any concerns with regard to using mismatched SSDs in RAID0? (Outside of losing the last 10 GB in the Samsung and the fact that any drive failure will result in loss of data on the SSDs, not that it matters with them storing exclusively OS, applications, and games)

(I'll be honest, having an effective 480 GB is a complete relief. Even with OSes and apps only, it still feels way too cramped with a 240 GB drive, as an avid PC gamer)
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:46 am

My only concern is running SSD's in Raid 0. You increase the risk of fault without any increase in performance outside of benchmarks and very specific tasks. SSD's eliminated the need for striping for performance. Unless you are running some seriously heavy I/O based tasks your better off with the extra space for data.
 
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 5:25 am

Have you updated to the latest firmware on the 840 EVO? If not, the whole array will slow to a crawl after a few months due to the 840 EVO voltage drift issue.
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Noinoi
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 7:33 am

just brew it! wrote:
Have you updated to the latest firmware on the 840 EVO? If not, the whole array will slow to a crawl after a few months due to the 840 EVO voltage drift issue.

Made sure it was at the latest firmware before yanking it out. I think I'm good there - I should be fine given that the desktop will be turned on for hours every day.
Really, this was more for having more total storage on the system drive than anything else. Not really looking for a higher absolute performance (though I did see marked improvements, especially writes - might have something to do with the old single SSD configuration being run right up to the limit at about 90% used)
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:40 am

If you don't care about the data loss and potential time to restore/redownload your games then I guess not. RAID drivers are better able to cope with mis-matched drive performance. The only risk I'm aware of is if one of the SSDs takes too long to complete an operation you could still drop the entire array.

I still say you're playing with fire, a SandForce 2281 drive and a first-gen Samsung TLC drive are not a pairing I'd ever try to make. :) SF-2281 drives had too many edge case issues. I think there is a good chance some edge case will cause one of the drives to pause long enough that it drops the array. If you keep that setup do let us know how well/long it holds up...
 
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:54 pm

I used two of that drive for 6 months in a RAID-0 array. I had no problems other than the expected lack of TRIM support. Of course, there was no noticable performance boost; I really only had the array for increasing the max volume size.

Note that I was running the latest firmware, and while these drives were definitely affected by the slowdown bug, the firmware update clearly fixed it (this was before sticking them in the array).

EDIT: In theory if you had a sufficiently capable motherboard, you could use a bunch of SSDs in RAID-0 to get around the SATA-III bottleneck, but given that even insane PCIe drives don't provide any tangible benefit, I'm not sure that this would be worth anything even if it worked. 

It's hard to even set this up, since IIRC the final bottleneck is going to end up being the number of PCIe lanes assigned to SATA, which can be horrifically low on some MBs.
 
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:57 pm

Vhalidictes wrote:
I used two of that drive for 6 months in a RAID-0 array. I had no problems other than the expected lack of TRIM support. Of course, there was no noticable performance boost; I really only had the array for increasing the max volume size.


TRIM is supported by Intel's RST in RAID 0 as long as it's a 7-series chipset or newer and version 11 or newer of RST. Even 6-series chipsets can support it with a little bit of hacking/flashing apparently.
 
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:37 am

Well, almost two months in, the array is still mostly holding up, and SMART attributes check out.

I did run into a weird thing trying to copy photos from my phone, though (I've since reinstalled Windows because, well, why not? Figured I probably could use a clean setup)

It took several seconds to get a photo to copy instead of about two photos per second. Odd. Checking the Task Manager revealed that the array was 99% busy during said period.

After letting it finish up the file copying, I've decided to do some tests involving a folder of photos which is around a GB.

Copying from SSD to HDD array, looks fine.

Copying from HDD to SSD array... hoo boy. Wasn't expecting the WD Black to cruise at 50% while the SSD array is pegged at 100%; the write speed also jumped a lot between 450 MB/s and 1.5 MB/s. Sure is odd.

Deleted the extra folders of photos created in the testing process, ran a reTRIM operation via Windows Disk Optimizer, then shut the system down after the HDD activity light stops being lit up (it does that apparently when a reTRIM is still in progress), and restarted, and retested. Performance went back to highly consistent 160 MB/s copying, capping out the HDD at 100% while the SSD array hovers around 15-25% busy at worst. No odd speed drops or anything like that.

Is it possible that drive garbage collection and/or TRIM wasn't working properly?

Running into this, I think I might want to start saving up money to upgrade to a proper 480 GB-tier SSD soon.
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:11 am

I think your speculation is right on the money. It sounds like TRIM isn't working, *and* one of the drives (what's the make/model of the other one?) has really poor garbage collection.
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Noinoi
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:39 am

just brew it! wrote:
I think your speculation is right on the money. It sounds like TRIM isn't working, *and* one of the drives (what's the make/model of the other one?) has really poor garbage collection.


The drives in the array were probably, as mentioned earlier, extremely mismatched in retrospect. One is a 240 GB Kingston HyperX Fury; the other a 250 GB Samsung 840 EVO. The 840 EVO is at least a year, or two, older than the Kingston.

Hmm... Perhaps I should start thinking of a good budget 480 GB SSD to look for as a replacement of this frankenSSD.
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:10 am

Noinoi wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
I think your speculation is right on the money. It sounds like TRIM isn't working, *and* one of the drives (what's the make/model of the other one?) has really poor garbage collection.


The drives in the array were probably, as mentioned earlier, extremely mismatched in retrospect. One is a 240 GB Kingston HyperX Fury; the other a 250 GB Samsung 840 EVO. The 840 EVO is at least a year, or two, older than the Kingston.

Hmm... Perhaps I should start thinking of a good budget 480 GB SSD to look for as a replacement of this frankenSSD.


If possible, I'd install new firmware on that 840, that series had a number of weird bugs that might be affecting performance. I'd also agree that even with today's inflated prices you should be able to eventually get a good deal on a 480->512GB drive of some type.
 
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:23 am

I probably wouldn't have attempted this in the first place. If space is the issue, you can get 500GB for cheap these days. If performance was the issue, I have a hard time believing you'd even notice the difference and you're risking losing all your data. I just don't see much upside to the RAID0 idea.

If I were you I'd look for a new drive that suits your capacity/speed needs.
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:28 am

DancinJack wrote:
I probably wouldn't have attempted this in the first place. If space is the issue, you can get 500GB for cheap these days. If performance was the issue, I have a hard time believing you'd even notice the difference and you're risking losing all your data. I just don't see much upside to the RAID0 idea.

If I were you I'd look for a new drive that suits your capacity/speed needs.


DancinJack, I had this idea (back around 2013) that massive RAID-0 SSD arrays would be a workaround for the SATA-III 3Gb/sec limit. This turned out to be not a thing, and for a huge number of reasons, including:

1) Surprise! Not enough motherboard bandwidth to the SATA ports so you can't exceed ~600MB/s sequential speed in any case!
2) Oops! RAID-0 prevented TRIM and also interferes with normal garbage collection (due to the drives all being busy at the same time during any accesses).
3) Dammit! Early SSDs had firmware problems, and you couldn't update them when they were array members, or get SMART stats, which mattered a lot because of...
4) ARGH! Drive failures! The entire array fails... a lot (keep in mind I was talking about 6x128GB drives, one or more were always crapping out).

On my 2011v1 boards I've actually had better speeds with two drives in RAID-0 on the addin SATA controllers (typically Marvell) which is just sad.
Last edited by Vhalidictes on Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:30 am

RAID0 does not really seem worth it, especially the combined bandwidth is not being realized at all, plus the array is not recoverable. If the motivation is "one drive", then why not just mount the slower (you need to bench this, the Kingston may be that bait-and-switch slower one even if it is "newer") drive under a folder path under NTFS?
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:33 am

Flying Fox, most people, even ones familiar with the linking concept from *nix, don't know that you can do that.

It was added as a stealth features in Windows 7 and never talked about by MS. You'd have to have been MS-certified to have run into it back in the day, although the knowledge has leaked out into the Internet by osmosis since then.

If you want to learn more: http://www.windowscentral.com/how-mount-hard-drive-folder-windows-10
 
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:37 am

Vhalidictes wrote:
DancinJack wrote:
I probably wouldn't have attempted this in the first place. If space is the issue, you can get 500GB for cheap these days. If performance was the issue, I have a hard time believing you'd even notice the difference and you're risking losing all your data. I just don't see much upside to the RAID0 idea.

If I were you I'd look for a new drive that suits your capacity/speed needs.


lots of words pretty much repeating my suggestion.


OK
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:44 am

DancinJack wrote:
I probably wouldn't have attempted this in the first place. If space is the issue, you can get 500GB for cheap these days. If performance was the issue, I have a hard time believing you'd even notice the difference and you're risking losing all your data. I just don't see much upside to the RAID0 idea.

If I were you I'd look for a new drive that suits your capacity/speed needs.

It's possible to have an array like this that works well, you just need to be aware of the caveats. Mixing drives with spotty firmware / unbalanced write speeds is surely a road to an inconsistent experience.

Heck, I don't even have TRIM support on my array, but I don't miss it. Write speeds rarely drop below 1 GB/s for reasonable workloads. It's mostly write-once read-many access (game installs).
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:00 pm

Vhalidictes wrote:
Flying Fox, most people, even ones familiar with the linking concept from *nix, don't know that you can do that.

It was added as a stealth features in Windows 7 and never talked about by MS. You'd have to have been MS-certified to have run into it back in the day, although the knowledge has leaked out into the Internet by osmosis since then.

If you want to learn more: http://www.windowscentral.com/how-mount-hard-drive-folder-windows-10

Sorry, had to fact check: seems like in theory the feature was in NTFS 3/3.1, so as far as 2000/XP we had this feature already. I definitely remember seeing it before Win7. But yes, MS has never really advertised it, nor used it themselves on any massive scale (only in WHSv1). That's why I have included a link, and looks like you did too. ;)
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DancinJack
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Re: Anything I need to take note of running mismatched SSDs in RAID0?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:13 pm

Waco wrote:
It's possible to have an array like this that works well, you just need to be aware of the caveats. Mixing drives with spotty firmware / unbalanced write speeds is surely a road to an inconsistent experience.

Heck, I don't even have TRIM support on my array, but I don't miss it. Write speeds rarely drop below 1 GB/s for reasonable workloads. It's mostly write-once read-many access (game installs).


I didn't say it wasn't possible, just that I wouldn't be doing it in today's age of cheap 2.5" SATA drives and fast-as-hell NVMe drives.
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